The Mayor won an election; however, he continues to act like he needs to prove something. His print and video statements were another attempt to take a swipe at Tom Ford and me. He and his clique on Council have labeled us many things, and he now wants to add anarchists to the list. Why?
On Monday, December 23rd, he and his fellow conspirators faced their first meeting where the audience was overwhelmingly against them. He was visibly shaking while attempting to bend the withering audience interrogation into his narrative that Matt and Tom are bad. As he floundered, Madam President tried to regain control of the room through force, by silencing crowd dissent with an overzealous slam of her gavel.
Tom and I have been accused of distorting facts. Here are some facts.
Mount Pocono will bring in 8.9% more Real Estate tax revenue in 2020 than it did in 2019. Based on each individual or business's reassessment, some will pay more in 2020 than in 2019, and some will pay less. However, all of us will pay 8.9% more than we could have, had Council kept the Borough's Real Estate tax revenue the same in 2020 as it was in 2019. The tax RATE has INCREASED.
Borough employees will not receive a raise for the 3rd year in a row. In the December 23rd meeting, Madame President said that raises had not been discussed.
In 2020, Borough employees will no longer receive vacation days at the same pace. Over six years, employees will lose a total of 6 vacation days.
In 2020, Borough employees that opt-out of the Borough sponsored health insurance due to having access to health insurance from another party (Spouse, VA, Retirement Plan, etc) will no longer receive a cash payment of half the value of the premium. Currently, one employee takes that payout but will lose it effective immediately.
None of those above-mentioned employee policy changes were discussed and/or negotiated with employees before being enacted. All were enacted under the guise of needing to cut costs.
The first time Council was provided with ordinances that increased Councilmember pay and gave Councilmembers access to taxpayer-funded Healthcare was at the Dec 16th meeting. Madame President handed out her own printouts of the Ordinances, and our Solicitor had only received the Ordinances that day.
Those are facts. I am guilty of being outraged at those facts. I am guilty of being hyperbolic by saying it's "theft" to raise taxes, cut employee pay* and benefits, and suggesting that Council gets double it's pay and access to tens of **thousands of dollars in tax-payer money to fund Council's Health Insurance.
So am I attempting to inspire an uprising? If an uprising consists of Council chambers filled with informed and concerned citizens, then consider this an emphatic "Hell Yeah!" You should be both angry and concerned. A rudderless and insecure council tried to put taxpayer dollars in its own pockets while raising taxes and abusing employees. Do not accept their newly found humility. They wanted that raise. They wanted the health care. They did not expect people to pay attention. They had the arrogance to assume that taxpayers would just go along with it due to their popularity, and any dissent from Tom or me would not be taken seriously due to there carefully orchestrated attacks on our character.
We have to stay vigilant and monitor the 2020-2021 Council. Raises and Insurance will be brought up again. Councilmember Keeler freely admitted that she would take the Health Insurance if it was available to her. Keeler, Casole, the Mayor, and my replacement will be up for reelection in 2021. Should they win, they will have access to any benefits enacted prior to 2022.
It is not only the raises that we need to be concerned about. They are greedy and self-absorbed. They made it clear on December 23rd that they do not consider their position to be volunteer work. If this is not a volunteer position, what will they be willing to do to keep this "job"? In a time of rising Health Care costs, what would YOU be willing to do to keep a job that pays 100% of your premium and a $250 deductible?
Tom and I are finished on Council. Mayor Penn and Company will not have us to blame for their failures however we will still be out here holding them accountable.
*Not giving the employees a Cost of Living Adjustment amounts to paying them less in the next year.
**A 60-year-old Councilmember would cost the borough approximately $1000 a month in premium costs. Madame President said "1 or 2" would be interested in the benefits. I am not sure if that includes Councilmember Keeler, who would not have been eligible until 2022.